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News Release

Canadian Veterinary Medical Veterinary Association surveys members on pet oral health

Toronto, ON (February, 2008) — Dental care is an essential part of humans’ daily routines – parents ensure their kids brush their teeth twice a day; visit their dentist on a regular basis and invest in corrective devices (braces, guards, etc.) and other procedures that promote good oral health. Canadians clearly recognize the importance and benefits of having a mouth full of healthy teeth and gums, so why the lack of interest when it comes to their furry friends’ chompers?

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, found that over 80 per cent of veterinarians surveyed report that only 10 per cent of their clients brush their cat or dog’s teeth on a daily basis. Like oral health problems in humans, a lack of regular and attentive care when it comes to pet’s teeth can have serious implications for health and well-being.

“The mouth provides a clear window into the body, reflecting health or disease,” says Dr. Colin Harvey, Director of the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) from the University of Pennsylvania. “Research in both dogs and humans has shown that treatment of infection in the mouth causes improvement in overall health.”

Getting to the root of the problem
A number of human studies have found links between periodontal disease and serious or life threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments and osteoporosis. Emerging information from veterinary studies has also associated heart, kidney and liver problems in addition to other systemic health conditions, to pets with poor oral health.

“Because we know that periodontal disease has both local and systemic effects on the general wellness of pets, it is important to prevent this through proper oral hygiene combined with regular veterinary exams,” says Dr. Harvey.

When a dentist informs a patient that they are displaying signs or early stages of gingivitis, the patient often leaves the office with a plan to do something about it. Canadians take their dental care very seriously – but tend to ignore it when it comes to their pet.

Help systemic health problems bite the dust
Veterinarians believe that over 75 per cent of their clients do not see a correlation between dental disease and other problems or diseases their pets may harbour. Pet owners often underestimate the steps that need to be taken with their pet’s teeth in order to help ensure they maintain good health.

“Taking preventative measures at home and with the veterinarian can help pet owners provide their pet with the foundation required to build good oral health,” says Dr. Fraser Hale, Board-Certified Veterinary Dental Specialist, Hale Veterinary Clinic in Guelph, Ontario. “Incorporating regular dental care into a pet’s routine can help reduce the many systemic health issues that can arise as a result of poor oral hygiene.”

In order to ensure oral health problems don’t interfere with a pet’s quality of life, pets should have their teeth brushed on a regular basis. For the best dental care results, try the following tips and tricks:

• Ask a member of the veterinary health team to demonstrate the proper technique for daily brushing
• Never use human toothpaste, as the foaming agents can pose risks to pets
• Start brushing pets’ teeth at the puppy/kitten stage so they become accustomed to the routine
• For pets prone to plaque and tartar build up, incorporate professional cleanings into veterinary visits

Plaque and tartar buildup increases the likeliness that a pet will develop gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal disease - a damaging stage of infection that affects the entire body. Incorporating a dental food or treat formulated to reduce tartar, plaque build up and stains, is another way pet owners can be proactive in preventing oral health problems in pets.

Consumers should look for pet foods and treats that display the VOHC Seal for control of plaque and tartar. The accepted seal identifies products that have met pre-set standards for plaque and/or tartar control in dogs and cats. Feeding a specially formulated dental food, along with daily brushing can help combat plaque and tartar often responsible for the development of gingivitis. These veterinary dental foods are excellent sources of required daily nutrition.

VOHC exists to recognize products that meet pre-set standards for plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols. To learn more about VOHC visit

About Hill’s
Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is a leading global pet food company that manufactures and markets premium wellness and therapeutic pet foods under the Hill’s® Science Diet® and Hill’s® Prescription Diet® brands. Hill's mission is to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets by producing the most advanced, highest quality pet foods available. In Canada, Hill's markets Science Diet® brand pet foods through veterinarians and pet specialty food stores, and Prescription Diet® brand pet foods exclusively through veterinary clinics.

About the CVMA
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national professional association representing the interests of over 10,000 veterinarians in Canada. The Association is committed to excellence within the veterinary profession and to the well-being of animals. To aid in the promotion of animal health and responsible animal ownership, the CVMA developed a comprehensive web site for animal owners,

For further information please contact Joanne Elson or Meghan Smith at Cohn & Wolfe: Telephone: 416-924-5700 E-mail: or